China began construction of the 820 kilometer-long Lanzhou-Chongqing railway here on Friday.
The railway connects Lanzhou, the capital city of northwestern Gansu Province, with southwestern Chongqing Municipality, and will cost 77.4 billion yuan .
After six years of construction, the project will shorten the previous time of rail travel from 17.5 hours to 6.5 hours. Its annual freight capacity stands at 100 million tonnes.
Zhang Dejiang, Chinese vice premier, met construction workers after the cornerstone-laying ceremony. He told them: "The building of the Lanzhou-Chongqing railway plays a crucial role in improving the transportation efficiency and pushes forward the country's western region development program."
The railway runs through resource-rich Shaanxi Province and southwestern Sichuan Province.
"Its operation will help people along the railway line to escape poverty and build a relatively well-off society," he added.